Zimbabwe Three Years Later: Still No Justice for the Victims And Survivors of the 1 August 2018 Post-Election Violence

The National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) notes with great concern that, three years later, the recommendations made by the Motlanthe Commission following the 1 August 2018 violence have not yet been fully implemented and victims are yet to receive justice. On 30 July 2018, the presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections were held. Violence erupted on 1 August 2018 following demonstrations after delays in the release of the presidential election results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The army, which was illegally deployed, used live ammunition to quell the protests by unarmed citizens in Harare which resulted in the death of six civilians. The response of the authorities was disproportionate and, in this case, deadly.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed a Commission of Inquiry led by former South African President, Kgalema Motlanthe to investigate what transpired and make recommendations to address the violence. The Motlanthe Commission came up with several recommendations, including, the payment of compensation, the need for electoral reforms, accountability in respect of the alleged perpetrators, enforcement of law and order to ensure non-recurrence, national healing, and reconciliation. The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) set up an ad-hoc Cabinet Committee to assess the damage caused because of the violence in August 2018.

On 28 June 2020, over a year after the Motlanthe Commission released its report the Sunday Mail Newspaper published an article claiming that the GoZ had fully complied with the recommendations made by the Motlanthe Commission. The article reported that Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs who also served as the Motlanthe Commission’s secretary had informed the Sunday Mail that the GoZ had fully complied with the recommendations. Mrs Mabhiza reportedly claimed that in terms of compensation for the victims the GoZ had communicated with victims and informed them of the procedures to follow to enable them to get com pen sation from the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. However, information received from the victims, their families and their legal representatives shows that they were not contacted and still have not been compensated to date. The State’s continued failure to implement the recommendations made by the Motlanthe Commission only serves to encourage human rights violations, violence and impunity.

The NTJWG strongly condemns the continued use of disproportionate and unnecessary force by armed security sector agents against unarmed civilians which resulted in the events of 1 August 2018. To guard against the recurrence of the violations of 1 August, the NTJWG calls for the following:

  • Upholding of the rule of law, respect, protection and promotion of human rights by the GoZ and the security forces.
  • Full implementation of all the recommendations made by the Montlanthe Commission by the GOZ.
  • Criminal prosecution of the perpetrators of the violations witnessed on 1 August by the National Prosecuting Authority.
  • Provision of compensation to all victims and survivors of the 1 August violence by the GOZ.
  • Putting in place of measures and programs aimed at building social cohesion and tolerance of diverging views by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. This is necessary to deal with Zimbabwe’s history of violence and guarantee the non-recurrence of incidents such as those witnessed on 1 August 2018.

Source: National Transitional Justice Working Group

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